September 22, 2019 | 69° F

HOLEY: We need willpower to overcome problems

Opinion Column: The Breaking Point

Years ago, I went through a period of depression that, in its worst moments, took nearly an entire year of my life. At some point back then, I decided that I had to go see a psychologist for help. I thought that someone else would be able to give me a solution to my problems. It did not work. The therapists I went to offered opportunities for me to vent my frustrations, which was not at all what I wanted. I wanted my problems to be fixed. 

Then came the day when I had a sudden epiphany: If I wanted my problems to end, then I needed to change them myself. Of course, such a realization by itself was not necessarily that profound. But, without going into too much personal detail, my problems were far from normal and seemingly out of my control to begin with. 

How, then, did I plan to ever overcome my situation? To any rational person, there was not much I could do. There was not much that I did actually do, at least in regard to fixing the issues I was facing. Yet, at the same time, I was able to thrive in my environment because my mentality changed. Situations out of my control no longer depressed me because I decided I would overcome them all. 

Sometimes, you will be faced with a dilemma that is completely out of your control. It may depress you, and it may cause you to lose repeatedly. But at the same time, while you may not be able to beat that situation, you cannot let it beat you either. At some point, life becomes a matter of willpower. At least, if you do decide to stand up for what you believe in, you may not always win, but you at least have a chance of not losing.

Humanity would be wise to muster up more willpower against near-impossible odds. Today, we live in a world where the potential for evil and destruction is far greater than it has ever been. Our own planet struggles to support us. Thanks to our advancement in technology, governments can now oppress their citizens with greater ease. We have weapons that can wipe out millions in minutes. The list of factors pointing us toward a future of mass tragedy goes on. 

Meanwhile, our society remains completely divided. Every issue that we face is only exacerbated by our unwillingness to rationally communicate with each other. We lack the ability to collectively handle any issue with the speed and efficiency required to avoid catastrophe. Rather than addressing problems, we are too busy distracting ourselves by having to argue fact from fiction.

Even the people who have managed to come up with solutions to many of the issues we face today have no way to spreading their thoughts among the public. The only medium we have for any hope of change is our fractured, unreliable political system that changes leadership every 4 to 8 years to a side with completely opposing views and strategies. 

People need to come to the realization that the problems we face today are not going to be fixed unless rational people can come together and muster up the willpower to try and overcome great odds. It is no longer acceptable to just sit back and let life depress you with its chaotic and catastrophic aspects. Either we all decide to fight together, or we will all definitely lose together. 

The first thing we could start doing to try and have a positive impact on this world is organizing some sort of movement devoid of petty partisanship. Imagine what ordinary people could accomplish if they all got together and met to try and discuss actual, viable solutions to issues. Imagine a world where Democrats and Republicans would all sit down at a table — political identities left behind — and not leave until a solution to one of the world’s many pressing issues is created. If people went in with open minds and the intention to actually solve something, then perhaps we could truly make an impact on the world far beyond any single individual. 

You cannot always change your situation, but you can always change yourself. When people come together and recognize that, then situations may start to change as well. Anything good only has a chance of beginning if someone has the willpower to try and make it happen.

Michael Holey is a School of Arts and Sciences junior interested in political science. His column, "The Breaking Point," runs on alternate Mondays.


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Michael Holey

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